It may come as a shock, but many of the common old wives tales that we heard from our parents growing up are actually false. Cracking your knuckles won’t really give you arthritis, nor will being cold make you sick.
Comparethemarket.com.au have created an infographic that examines seven common old wives tales to determine which ones hold some genuine truth, and which are simply myths that were likely used as a way to keep us in line.
Eating carrots will give you night vision
You’ve likely heard a variation of this tale at some point in your life; perhaps from your parents in a frustrated attempt to get you to eat your veggies. It’s an interesting premise because while carrots do not actually give you night vision, they do provide some eye health benefits. Carrots are packed full on beta-carotene, which your body converts into Vitamin A and uses to keep your eyes healthy.
Urinating on a jellyfish sting helps with the pain
If you’ve been in the unfortunate position of either the one who released the flow or the one who received the stream, you might get a little red-faced after you find out this tale is also false. It’s actually advised not to urinate on a jellyfish sting. For bluebottle (Portuguese man o’ war) and other minor jellyfish stings, Healthdirect Australia recommends washing the sting with seawater, carefully removing any tentacles from the skin and running the affected area under hot water.
Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis
You’ve probably either had this tale barked at you, or been the one telling someone off. Knuckle crackers can proceed with pleasure, however, because cracking your knuckles does not cause arthritis in your fingers. Several studies have been done on this myth, including one by a researcher who spent 60 years cracking the knuckles on one hand but not the other to see if arthritis developed in either hand (it did not; both his cracked and uncracked fingers were arthritis-free). Knuckle cracking is usually caused by air bubbles forming in the synovial fluid between the joints, which then burst.
The five-second rule
Although not quite a wives tale, the belief that you can drop your food on the ground and have five seconds to quickly pick it up and eat it is unfortunately false. The time spent on your food matters very little to bacteria; they’ll crawl onto it as soon as it hits the floor.
You’ll catch a cold if you are cold
For those who often go to bed with wet hair or forget to bring their scarf on a cold day, you’ll be glad to hear that this old wives tale is actually false. Although it’s true that colds and flu are more common during the winter months, it’s not the temperature itself that causes symptoms. Colds and flu are caused by viruses, and colder days create perfect virus-spreading conditions. People spend more time indoors and around other people when it’s cold out, meaning there is a better chance for viruses to spread by means of coughing and sneezing.
You lose most of your body heat through your head
Another dire warning parents give to their children who forget their beanie is that people lose most of the body heat through their head. This is false. The truth is that you can lose heat through any part of your body that’s exposed to the elements. Your head wouldn’t lose any more heat than your abdomen would if they were both exposed to the cold.
Chicken soup is good for a cold
It’s a very common tale that transcends cultures, and it must be for good reason. This old wives tale is true – to an extent. Chicken soup can’t treat or cure your cold, but it can help to relieve symptoms. Soups can be easier to eat when you have a sore throat, and the liquid can be hydrating. Inhaling the warm steam coming from your bowl could also help clear nasal mucous.
Visit comparethemarket.com.au to see the full list of common wives tales that have been debunked or proven true.
 Victoria State Government – Carrots: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/IngredientsProfiles/Carrots
 Healthdirect – Sea Creature stings: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/sea-creature-stings
 Healthdirect – Jellyfish stings: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/jellyfish-stings
 The Conversation – What makes joints pop and crack and is it a sign of disease?: https://theconversation.com/what-makes-joints-pop-and-crack-and-is-it-a-sign-of-disease-113076
 Queensland Government – Here’s why the five second rule is just an urban myth: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/161122-fivesecondrule
 Healthdirect – Flu Vaccine FAQs: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/flu-vaccine-faqs
 Healthdirect – Cold or flu?: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/cold-or-flu-infographic
 Victoria State Government – Hypothermia: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/hypothermia
 Healthdirect – How to supercharge your soup this winter: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/blog/how-to-supercharge-your-soup-this-winter